North Carolina author Ronni Lundy took home the top James Beard Foundation award for Book of the Year April 25 at the culinary organization’s media awards.
“Victuals: An Applachian Journey” also won a James Beard Award in the American Cooking cookbook category, besting Kinston chef Vivian Howard’s debut cookbook, “Deep Run Roots.”
The awards were given out in New York. They’re formerly known as the Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards and include books, journalism, broadcast media and restaurant design.
James Beard Awards, considered the Oscars of the culinary world, are given in 21 categories, including outstanding chef, outstanding restaurant and best chef in 10 different regions, best new restaurants, rising star chefs, pastry chefs and bakers. The chef and restaurant awards will be given out in Chicago May 1.
Howard and Lundy, of Asheville, have been competing against each other in major culinary awards these past few months for their respective cookbooks.
Howard’s book won Cookbook of the Year, along with three other awards, from the International Association of Culinary Professionals in March. Lundy won an award from IACP, too.
Both are finalists for a Southern Book Prize.
Lundy’s book is described on her website as “an exploration of the foodways, people, and places of Appalachia. It explores the surprisingly diverse history – and vibrant present – of food in the Mountain South through recipes, stories, traditions, and innovations.”
As with Howard’s debut cookbook, whose chapters are dedicated to the ingredients behind the food that’s drawn national attention to her restaurant, Chef and the Farmer, Lundy’s chapters also are titled by food or tradition. They include salt, beans and corn.
This is Lundy’s seventh cookbook.
Howard won a James Beard Award last year for Outstanding Television Personality for her PBS show, “A Chef’s Life,” which continues to draw fans to Howard’s down-to-earth style.
Lundy and Howard will compete against “Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce Cookbook” by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson for the Southern Book Prize cookbook category. Those awards will be given out July 1.
Meanwhile, Howard is nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Culinary Host. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences gave out those awards in California on Sunday. Her PBS series has been on the air for four seasons.
This was the first time Howard has been nominated in the host category. She faced competition from Lidia Bastianich, “Lidia’s Kitchen” (PBS); Rick Bayless, “Mexico One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless” (PBS); Guy Fieri, “Guy’s Big Bite” (Food Network); Bobby Flay, “Brunch @ Bobby’s” (Food Network); and Ina Garten, “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics” (Food Network).
Howard was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef: Southeast.
Although 14 North Carolina chefs were named semifinalists, including nine in the Triangle, only one is a contender for an award: John Fleer of Rhubarb in Asheville. He faces four other chefs in the Outstanding Chef: Southeast category.
Former News & Observer food editor Andrea Weigl was nominated in a new journalism category for local impact for her stories. The award was given to Hanna Raskin of The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.
Cooking Light editor Hunter Lewis, a Chapel Hill native and UNC graduate, and his colleagues Carolyn Williams, Sidney Fry and Peggy Knickerbocker won in the food and health journalism category for a series of articles called “Brain Food.”
Only four North Carolina chefs have won James Beard Awards while working in the state.
Jessica Banov: 919-829-4831; @JessicaBanov